Wednesday evening I went to a meeting at church and then came home to a full house…my mom, dad, sister, Bryan and Zoe were all hanging out and had saved a dinner plate for me. After I ate we got on Skype with Bryan’s fam. I started noticing some contractions just as we were saying goodbye.
I’ve been getting painless contractions now for two weeks and at my OB appointment that morning I was 3cm dilated, 60% effaced, and baby was engaged. The doc was surprised I wasn’t actually in labor! So, of course, mom and I went to the gym to walk the treadmill and took care of a bunch of last minute errands for Arlo. Dad, Bethany, and Zoe spent the whole day at Wild Adventures!
Anyway, around 9:00pm Bryan started timing the contractions because they were feeling different – still fairly painless, but crampy. They were 2-3 minutes apart and lasting 30-45 seconds for a good hour and half while I walked around the house. I felt like this might be the night, so I hopped in the shower. The contrations continued, so I decided to sit on the couch and see if they lessened, which they did not. At that point we decided it was probably tonight, and we should figure out when to go and get camera batteries charged! All of a sudden, though, I got a more painful crampy contraction; leaning on Bryan made it feel mild and OK, but I did need to breathe through it. I knew if I got more of those that this was real…when the second one came we packed up, took a picture, and headed to the hospital.
Zoe was excited and wanted to see Avi. She was content with knowing she could come visit tomorrow with Grandpa Joe and that he was going to tell her bedtime stories. We got to the hospital around 11pm and I was getting the very crampy contractions every 2 minutes for about a minute. The ER took a bit to get us registered and sent to Labor and Delivery where I got into a gown and they monitored my contractions for 15 minutes and checked my progression…4cm dilated and fully effaced; water wasn’t broken. After that I went to the bathroom and stood through some contractions before they got bad. Sitting on the toilet through a few felt good, too. They got pretty hard and heavy quickly, though, and I just wanted to lay on my side.
Bryan did a great job coaching me through, helping me breath, rubbing my back, and encouraging me to switch positions. The nurses were great about letting him coach me and only monitoring the baby every now and then with the doppler. At one point they wanted to put in a saline lock – the one non-natural thing we agreed too – as a precaution in case I needed an IV in an emergency. Well that was a fiasco. 3 nurses tried to stick me multiple times before they finally got it in. They did great waiting until I was between contractions, but it really sucked and made the contractions really difficult to handle. It was stressful. I was examined and only at about 6 cm.
Bryan got me to get on my hands and knees to encourage the contractions to do more dilating. Well, that felt good between contractions, but was unbearable through a contraction since I couldn’t relax. I then laid back on my side and my water broke and just gushed all over! It was alot; I was so soaked. The nurses cleaned it up and changed all the pads really quickly. After that, I got back into the groove and handled contractions with breathing and moaning pretty well for a bit…until they just didn’t stop.
For a good hour it seemed they were really hard and my ‘break’ between was a smaller contraction. It was tough and I remember feeling like I couldn’t handle it, but Bryan coached me through. It helped too, to have my mom and Bethany in the room for motivation. Bethany had made some signs, “I am strong. I am ready. My body is made for this. Soon I will hold my son!” They were great! At another point I was examed and only at 7.5cm. Just after that I started feeling nearly unbearable contractions and was shaking, Avi felt unbelievabley low and almost out…so it was transition time. I really felt I couldn’t handle much more. They called Dr. McFarland and she was on her way. For about 40 minutes I got back to back contractions and Avi’s heart rate dropped very low for each. They gave me an oxygen mask and as long as I breathed deeply through the contraction he was great – it was very hard to do, though. Bryan got me to switch from side to side a couple times to keep stuff moving. It worked.
At my next exam I was 9cm dilated except for a ‘bit of a lip’. Finally, I felt the huge urge to push and beared down for one contraction on my side. He felt almost out. I remember yelling, “I want to push” and the nurses saying not too, and to try to pant through the next contraction since the doc wasn’t there yet. Well, no way was I not pushing. Luckily the doc walked in and instantly said, “ready to push?” and I yelled, “YES” They were still getting the bed ready when I pushed the first time – in the mirror I already saw Avi’s head! It felt really burny. At the next contraction I pushed with all I had and he came out!! I reached down and helped deliver him and pulled him onto my chest. It was such a relief to finally meet Avi.
2:54am. So, about 3 hours of hard labor, and only 6 hours total! Longer and harder than Zoe’s birth, but it paid off with only 2 pushes.
We all rubbed his back til he cried a bit and took some pictures. Bryan cut the cord and then the nurses weighed him, measured, and cleaned him up for a couple minutes. 6lbs 3oz; 20inches long. The doc helped pull the placenta, and really had to push on my belly for a half hour or so to get it out. I got a bit worried that we might have an issue like with Zoe (placenta accretia), but it came out and looked great. In fact, Dr. McFarland gave us a little tour of it. Neato.
Anyway, Avi came back to my chest all cleaned up and hungry. We took some more pictures and then the doc and all the nurses left so we could bond and calm down for a good hour and a half. Avi nursed really well! It was great. He then went across the hall to the nursery for some vitamins, blood tests, evaluation, and a bath. It took about an hour, and Bryan and Bethany were in and out of the room while they watched him in the nursery. I got up to use the bathroom and clean up. Amazingly I was able to do this on my own! When I had Zoe I couldn’t really walk for a few days and needed help in the bathroom – I didn’t realize that was a result of the placenta removal and not her birth. I’m still so amazed that my body felt just a bit sore so soon after delivery.
Around 5am Avi was back in the L & D room with us, mom and Bethany headed home, and Bryan, Avi, and I all took a nap until breakfast showed up. We got to stay in the LD room until just before lunch when we moved to a recovery room. Dad and Zoe then came to visit! She was so excited. They had stopped to pick up a little Happy Birthday balloon for Avi and a Princess balloon for me. It was so sweet. She seemed confused at first to see Avi – Dad said she was talking about watching mommy push him out – but, she was instantly intrigued and wanted to hold him. She just beamed and said, “he kicked me, he’s heavy. I’m done” and handed him back to Bryan. It was cute. Dad and Zoe visited for a long time. She enjoyed hanging out on the bed, rubbing and brushing Avi’s head, watching me nurse, and making the bed move.
After a couple hours they went home to grab some lunch and get Mom and Bethany up to visit. They all came back later in the afternoon, but Zoe was in a tired funk until Bryan took her for a walk and to get a treat. It was so nice to have a full room of family. In the evening some friends stopped by, too. We stayed here again last night. Avi was up 4 times to feed and has been filling diapers very well. He had another big exam in the nursery this morning – bloodwork, hearing test, physical – so he is ready for discharge. My OB will be by around lunch to give me my discharge and we’ll be out this afternoon.
It’s actually quite nice to just hang out here at the hospital. The staff here is great; they’ve gone to the trouble of not bugging us a night, following our birth plan, and being just super helpful. I’m so glad we chose the tiny Smith-Northview Hospital instead of the big medical center downtown. What an amazing birth!